Student Voice

On Constitution Day, students take the stage to exercise their First Amendment right

Student+and+faculty+observing+the+free+speech+participates%2C+while+other+registered+to+vote+or+learned+about+political+candidates.+Photo+credit%3A+Laura+De+Leon
Student and faculty observing the free speech participates, while other registered to vote or learned about political candidates. Photo credit: Laura De Leon

Student and faculty observing the free speech participates, while other registered to vote or learned about political candidates. Photo credit: Laura De Leon

Student and faculty observing the free speech participates, while other registered to vote or learned about political candidates. Photo credit: Laura De Leon

By Ulises Koyoc

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For the 231st anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, Moorpark College invited students to the quad to practice civic engagement, the opportunity to become registered voters and learn further about the Constitution. The event was hosted by Moorpark College President, Luis Sanchez, the Associated Students, and the Student Voice.

Lucia Saldivar, campaigning on behalf of California State Assembly incumbent Jacqui Irwin, traveled from Sacramento to man a booth at the event. It was her job to inform students of Irwin and her future goals. Saldivar said that she admires Moorpark College for hosting an event like Constitution Day, where it promotes being active in politics. Also, Saldivar is a firm believer that student votes are extremely crucial in whatever election.

“I think young people should definitely understand better what the Constitution has to say,” said Saldivar. “The Constitution can be boring, but fully knowing your rights is something powerful.”

Representing the Associated Students, president Andrew Lopez answered questions about the Constitution, handed out free goodies, and engaged with fellow students about the event. Lopez shared his beliefs that voting was a duty for young Americas. He mentioned that young people should eliminate the idea that their voices and opinions do not count in politics.

ASMC President Andrew Lopez

Associated Student President Andrew Lopez announcing that the stage would be available to any attendees wanting to participate in the 1st Amendment exercise. Photo credit: Ulises Koyoc

“No matter what others say, we do have a voice in this country,” said Lopez. “We are lucky to live in a country that allows voting and we should take advantage of it, so vote!”

League of Women Voters of VC table

Students line up for voter registration at the League of Women Voters of Ventura County table during Constitution day. Photo credit: Ulises Koyoc

Throughout recent years, young American citizens have overlooked voting, even though they are encouraged to do so in every election. Some might say that they do not like any of the candidates and end up not voting. Others might say that they are not as informed and fear that they might give their vote to the wrong candidate. However, it has been discovered that the only population by age that has had an increase in participation are “millennials”, according to the United States Census Bureau’s 2017 survey. This proves that young people are being more proactive in political affairs and taking heed to the words of people like Andrew Lopez, who motivates students to make their votes count.

Voting Age

Survey done by Census Bureau showing, that since 2012, voters over the age of 29 have dropped in particatio during elections Photo credit: United States Census Bureau

One of the main attractions that drew students over was the three-minute open microphone. The rules were simple: speak about anything to the audience no matter how obscure it may be within three minutes. More than six students volunteered, sharing their thoughts on political topics, spiritual beliefs, race, or life as a student. Without them knowing, they subconsciously exercised their First Amendment of freedom of speech.

Student, Quinn Canepa, 19, was one of those participants and shared his opinion about race in America. Canepa explained to the audience that all races are equal and that all people come from the same ancestry; therefore, racism should not exist in the world.

“I wanted to see how people would react to what I would say, but I felt really comfortable for the most part,” said Canepa. “I appreciate this event, but the Constitution has outdated Amendments that need fixing.”

Greg Kennedy, a 58-year-old student, was another participant that took full advantage of the open microphone. Like Canepa, Kennedy made use of the full three minutes provided to express himself. He voiced that faculty that support the Left at Moorpark College try to push their political beliefs on their students, who are oblivious to it. Kennedy later said that young students do not sincerely understand the Constitution completely even though they should.

“Young people are very easily manipulated and it can be dangerous,” said Kennedy. “I think students do not take the Constitution seriously when it’s important to do so.”

Greg Kennedy speaking during Constitution Day

Student, Greg Kennedy, taking the stage for a three minute free speak exercise. Photo credit: Robert Gonzales

The last student to participate was 23-year-old Jonathan Lazo, who although on crutches still managed to get up before attendees to share his opinions. Lazo said he was nervous to go up and speak to a crowd, but afterwards, it felt rewarding. He explained that it was almost an impulsive desire to stand up and speak, after he had heard the previous participants talk about their political beliefs. He did not share their beliefs, however Constitution Day is an event that Lazo appreciates and hopes that it continues.

“I’m not sure why I went up to talk, but it was satisfying to get what I said off my chest,” said Lazo. “I appreciated this event and I really want them to continue doing it for incoming students.”

Jonathan Lazo

First Amendment exercise participate Jonathan Lazo taking a moment to share his feelings about the 3 minute activity. Photo credit: Ulises Koyoc

All in all, Constitution Day was a busy day full of speeches, learning, registering, and engagement. President Luis Sanchez expressed how impressed he was by the students that participated, not only for the open microphone, but also those who took the time to register to vote. He was glad to see students tentatively reading the Constitution booklets on the grass and seeing faculty host a welcoming event.

“I would say that Constitution Day was a success and it could be seen by all the participation,” said Sanchez. “Celebrating the Constitution is already good enough, but actually seeing active interaction is even better.

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